The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued two final rules regarding employer-sponsored wellness programs. The rules arose as a result of the interplay between several federal statutes which touch upon wellness programs, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the EEOC’s concern that employer-sponsored wellness plans, especially those that solicit information about employees’ family members, could violate the ADA or GINA. In an attempt at clarifying when wellness programs are permissible, the EEOC’s final rules provide that wellness programs that are part of a group health plan and that ask questions about employees’ health or include medical examinations may offer incentives of up to thirty percent of the total cost of self-only coverage. The EEOC’s rules also cap the incentive attributable to a spouse’s participation in a wellness program at thirty percent of the total cost of self-only coverage. The final rules will become effective beginning on the first day of the plan year that begins in 2017. Given the numerous statutes applicable to employee wellness programs, and the newly promulgated EEOC rules, employers should review their wellness programs closely to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
The EEOC’s final rules and related information can be found at: